Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Although total newbies, we had 6 shows to put on (evenings Wednesday to Saturday, with Friday and Saturday afternoons thrown in), and were really grateful to our neighbours across the hall, James Moore and Chicago Mike, who ran “A Little Bit Marvelous”, for giving us tips here and there. We set up our room, which involved leaning one of the two beds up against the wall, collecting a dozen chairs from the ordering place in the lobby, and setting them up invitingly, and a bit of rearranging the furniture. Then we looked at how James and Mike set up their room, which seemed somehow lighter and larger than ours, and we rearranged the beds again, shortly before we opened the doors for the first time! We draped our Australian flag and Eureka flag, and as the week progressed we collected flags from other performers to decorate the room. By far the largest and therefore most eyecatching was the beautiful Scottish flag which Lorna Brooks brought. We pinned it to the curtains, and it was joined by a stars-and-stripes, a Quebec flag, and a Newfoundland flag.
I got some fresh grapes from a store on Main Street, because I was dying for some fresh fruit and they proved to be very popular with visitors to our room. We also supplied bottled water. (While some rooms offered free booze as a way to attract punters, we aimed our room at the listening crowd - having learned valuable lessons from Andrew Pattison and the Troubadour crew).
We put postcards everywhere we were allowed to, telling people when we were showcasing, and we put fold-up cards on the tables with the International Showcase Room programme on them, so everyone knew who was on. We had a poster on the door with our programme and our logo!!
And then we waited to see who would turn up…
Well, loads of people turned up, because three floors of the hotel were set aside to be little concert rooms, so they were awash with people sauntering down the corridors and peeking into every room. And by wandering and peeking whenever we could, we got a picture of what everyone else does.
Some rooms are very plain, and are all about getting a taste of the music and nothing else. No decoration, a few chairs and the bed to sit on, no hospitality, and in some cases you can’t even use their bathroom. I didn’t stay long in those rooms. At the other extreme were full suites, using a p.a., catering from the small kitchen, set up as a concert hall with rows of chairs, couches round the sides. Canada seemed to be particulary keen on these rooms, which were absolutely jumping. In the East Canada Suite they had platters of cheese and fruit and free beer to help you enjoy a wide selection of Canadian artists at maximum volume.
Then there were the quirky, atmospheric rooms, decorated with whimsical and personal items to create a friendly atmosphere. Lots of people favoured fairy lights, one room had a string of leaves decked round the door, many of them went for low lighting, and most rooms used one of the beds for sprawling on while listening. Some rooms removed all the beds and they were fun to sing in because there was some reverb.
The noise in the corridors, and often in the rooms, was unbelievable. But people didn’t mind if the door was almost closed; it didn’t stop them coming in to listen, and it did deal with the noise spill a bit.
We managed the noise, everyone pretty much turned up on time, the artists' contributions helped us out a little with expenses, and best of all, we got to hear some fabulous music from musicians we admire and came to know just a little bit.
A mad thing to do for a week, but the most fun in ages!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
We stood on the wide stage in the grand old museum, with nine other musicians, in front of more than 200 of our friends, fans and family, and we knew we’d done it! With the help of all our Brisbane friends, we raised the extra money we needed to take us to America. We all sang “Thousands or More” together, and that’s what we achieved.
The night began with a big set-up effort, aligning chairs, bumping in sound gear, stocking the bar, preparing the box office, and laying out a picnic dinner for all the musicians.
We stuck to our tightly organised soundcheck schedule, and suddenly the lights were low, the audience was seated, and Sandy McCutcheon was welcoming everyone and bringing on the first act of our mini folk festival – The Goodwills.
Bob and Laurel Wilson (The Goodwills) now live in Maleny, but years of Brisbane life yielded a rich harvest of Brisbane songs, and as many people were reminiscing about last coming to this building when it really was a museum, Bob and Laurel painted the picture of a Brisbane of old:
“I used to like the city better, thirty, forty years ago; We'd sit outside on the veranda, drinking rum and talking slow, When the purple jacarandas, drop their petals on the ground, That's the time that I remember, in that big country town.”
The Goodwills very generously donated the sales from their earliest album to our cause – thanks, Bob and Laurel.
When Sandy introduced the next act, he didn’t let them forget that at their Maldon Folk Festival performance, the audience called for an encore with the words, “Bring back the sexy boys!” Davydd McDonald and George Jackson wowed us and wooed us with brilliant fiddle and guitar playing, and knocked us out with that so-hot-right-now percussive dancing. Here are the boys in action
- and don’t forget to watch Davydd competing on “Australia’s Got Talent” on Feb 25!
There was a huge warm-fuzzy feeling all around as the Pirate Brides took the stage and filled the enormous hall with their luscious four-part vocals. The Brides looked fabulous, with Marcus’s double bass and Rose’s fiery red accordion particulary eye-catching, even on a stage which included a pipe organ, a grand piano and the QYO’s timpanis and tubular bells. Their songs of angels and lovers and trains and broken hearts; their beautiful, relaxed performance – no wonder the Pirate Brides have become so well-known and loved in Brissie.
Rose, Ryk, Markus and John sang us into the interval, whereupon everyone rushed Andrea’s bar, which was raising money for the Brisbane Folk History Project. We asked Andrea to run the bar and take the money for this good cause, because it wouldn’t have been much fun in the foyer without her libations!
And then it was our turn. At the very last minute, Nicole wanted to change the set list around, and we started with “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, which seemed like a good choice in that echoing space. It was amazing (and distracting) to see SOOO many people we knew, smiling up from the audience, and as we sang our favourite songs, we saw people from every part of our lives: our families beaming in the front row, friends from our home in Maleny, from school, from Woodford Folk Festival, from Sauna Club, from places we’ve worked and sessions we’ve played in, from Brisbane Celtic Fiddle Club, and even the nice man who gave Nicole a lift when she was lost in Moorooka last week! Thank you all for coming and supporting us.
We drew the raffle, with a prize of one of Nicole’s paintings of Morris dancers, and it was won by Helen Sonnenberg. Congratulations!
At the end of our set, we had some collaborating planned, and invited our friend and fiddle-player Emma Nixon on stage, along with all the musicians who had entertained all night, for a rousing and fiddle-filled version of the capstan shanty “Rock ‘n’ Roll Me Over” , combined with Scottish 4-part jig “The Seagull”, (and thanks to our students from Music Under the Southern Cross summer school for enthusiastically joining in from the audience), and finally our farewell song, “Thousands or More”.
It was a massive night, and a round of thanks is due, to all our great friends:
Sandy McCutcheon (MC), Matthew Moline (sound), Bob Hartley (stage manager), Don Jarmey (FOH manager), Fiona Hartley and Samantha Page (box office), Andrea Baldwin (bar manager) and her team, Helena Bond, Keith Urqhart, Carrie Hauxwell, Shaz and Deanna, and Jeff and Ann (CD sales). Thanks also to Alex and Alana, the Old Museum staff, who did a great job, especially Alex for being principal sound engineer.